Family law—review of 2018 and looking forward to 2019

Family law—review of 2018 and looking forward to 2019

Head of LexisPSL Family, Geraldine Morris, takes a whistle-stop tour through some of the key family law developments in 2018 and makes some predictions for 2019.  

Key developments in 2018

Standard orders

Practitioners may recall that the standard orders project was initially intended to be finalised and introduced for the new Family Court in April 2014, and was later described as not having been put on hold indefinitely, but that there had 'merely been a necessary slowing of the tempo'. With the approaching retirement of the then President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, the project came back to life with some vigor, and during the course of 2018 123 standard orders were issued, some representing amended versions of previous standard orders and others that were new orders issued following consultations. The rationale behind the President’s standard orders project is to avoid the time and money that is wasted in the process of drafting court orders that could, and therefore should, be standardised. Guidance indicates that orders are now on ‘a more formal footing’, and while they are not obligatory, their use is strongly encouraged.

Family Procedure Rules 2010

With legislative work on Brexit limiting the number of statutory instruments (SIs) that can be issued in other areas of law, only two amendment SIs were issued in relation to FPR 2010 in 2018, the most significant of which was The Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2018, SI 2018/440, which amended the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010) from 4 June 2018, primarily introducing new provisions as to ‘fast-track’ and ‘standard’ procedures in relation to applications for a financial remedy. Notably, where previously an application for variation of a financial remedy order came under the accelerated procedure, only an application for variation of a periodical payments order (with conditions) will now be dealt with under the fast-track. 

Also of note is that a revised FPR 2010, PD 27A came into effect from 23 July 2018, introducing page limits for certain types of documents, requirements in relation to bundles of authorities and making various amendments as to the use of electronic bundles in family proceedings.

Guidance

Again, the approaching retirement of Sir James Munby seemed to be the spur for him to clear his to do list, and new guidance was issued on a wide range of areas in 2018, including:

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About the author:

Geraldine is Head of LexisPSL Family. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1992 and was in practice for 15 years, most recently as a partner and head of the family team at Hart Brown, a large Surrey firm.

Geraldine writes for Butterworths Family Law Service and is a past editor of the Resolution Review. She has been published in the New Law Journal, the Law Society Gazette and the District Judges’ Bulletin as well as in the national press including the Times and the Telegraph.

When in practice she was a member of the Law Society Family and Children Panels, and an accredited Resolution Specialist with a focus on advanced financial provision and pensions. A past Resolution regional secretary and press officer, Geraldine also contributed chapters to the Resolution publications, International Aspects of Family Law (3rd Edition 2009) and The Modern Family (2012).